ByShahmeen Awan, writer at Creators.co

Tuesday, March 10 – Saint-Amand-Montrond

Only a serial escaper like Thomas Voeckler could make something from the day. Sure enough he and another French rider gave the flat capped and buttoned up cardy wearing folk standing in the dusty villages something to cheer.

Mud is what you notice on these early spring stages. It’s in the massive ploughed fields, yet to produce green shoots. It’s in the verges, sometimes claggy or heavily imprinted with tractor tyres.

On the road itself we bump over patties of dried mud. The cyclists and team cars throw up plenty of muddy dust too. We look like miners coming off shift in the press room: that’s how you can tell the moto photographers and their drivers at a big cycle race.

Luke Evans is photographer Graham Watson’s motorcycle driver at this year’s Paris-Nice

It’s not chocolate box pretty this region but there is a wild beauty to the place and if you like being alone check out the house prices. You will be tempted. I saw a perfectly habitable looking little bungalow in an estate agents window this morning for 75,000 euros.

Did I mention action? Forget it. It rained a bit in the morning and the bunch let the solo break stretch out the minutes.

They rode along as they often do in clumps of their own teams, chatting away.

Could there be grumbling about the depressing report from the UCI yesterday? Maybe. It’s not often you get days like this without even a half credible breakaway move.

Still the doughty French came out to stoically clap the race by. Some had their slippers on and one lady had on a pair of grubby pale blue crocs which she won’t thank me for noticing.

It’s funny what catches your eye on the motorcycle.

I see all the dogs. Most of them look unimpressed, ears back, shaking. One lady today held up her little fat terrier above the barriers, his tummy standing proud above splayed legs.

That’s pretty much how the dog version of me would look like on the moto.

It was colder than expected in the morning as the race set off on stage one of Paris-Nice heading 196.5km almost due south from SW Paris, and apart from a small climb at the start of the stage the terrain was never more than gently rolling.

Many riders, including Geraint Thomas, went back to their team cars for legwarmers. The pace was so desultory there was time to stop and hop about putting them on.

One rider broke away early doors but finding himself alone and completely exposed he quite sensibly stopped pedalling, sat up, took a drink or two and returned to the peloton.

Monday, March 9 – stage one

You don’t have to go far from Paris to find yourself in farming country where narrow roads stretch far into the distance.

Bimbling along on a motorbike behind the bunch there’s little to see apart from wind turbines, their blades stilled on a windless grey Monday in March.

Only a serial escaper like Thomas Voeckler could make something from the day. Sure enough he and another French rider gave the flat capped and buttoned up cardy wearing folk standing in the dusty villages something to cheer.

Mud is what you notice on these early spring stages. It’s in the massive ploughed fields, yet to produce green shoots. It’s in the verges, sometimes claggy or heavily imprinted with tractor tyres.

On the road itself we bump over patties of dried mud. The cyclists and team cars throw up plenty of muddy dust too. We look like miners coming off shift in the press room: that’s how you can tell the moto photographers and their drivers at a big cycle race.

Luke Evans is photographer Graham Watson’s motorcycle driver at this year’s Paris-Nice

Trending

Latest from our Creators